Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

the king of fruits

Of course, because it’s me, there was Easter dessert. And it was not themed, either — not in terms of cuisine or holiday animals. (Read: there were no decorative bunnies or spring chicks.) No, instead I made a very yummy, near-summery mango and raspberry crisp.

I came to mango late in life. My first memory of tasting one links with my first week of college in New York: I was walking up Broadway toward Union Square with an enormous group of other freshmen (freshmen always travel in packs, don’t you know) and there was a woman hawking mango flowers. She shoved a whole fruit onto a stick, and after whacking it with a machete (or so has morphed in my memory) for 20 seconds, the skin was peeled and the succulent, juicy fruit carved into petals. It was as big and sweet as cotton candy. A mango lollypop flower.

It seems like mangoes have been cropping up everywhere in the last couple months. “Everywhere,” like “twice in the New York Times,” but bear with me. The recipes are gorgeously enticing. There was a mango tres leches cake the beginning of the month: a white cake buoyed by with whipped egg whites, soaked with a heavy cream/coconut milk/condensed milk sauce, and topped with a mousse-like mango cream and pureed mangoes. I’ve been dying to make it… and with less than ten days to go, I suppose I’d better heave-ho! And then just yesterday, a parade of recipes showcasing the so-called king of fruits: ginger-orange-mango smoothies, shrimp and mango tacos, mango rice pudding…

Well, there will be a time for all that. (Mangoes peak in the next two months.) Sunday night was crisp time. We so enjoyed them, their rich sweetness only deepened and accentuated by the cooking time and oatmeal-nut topping. I know you will too.

Mango Crisp with Raspberries

(Adapted from Cusine at Home magazine)

Serves 2

  • 1/2 lb fresh or frozen mango, diced into 1-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups, or about two mangoes)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp quick cooking oats, or old fashioned oats pulsed in a food processor
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp flour
  • 4 tsp cold, cubed, unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Toss together mango, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, cornstarch, lime juice, and salt. Set aside.

Combine oats, 2 Tbsp sugar, and flour. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or fork until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add walnuts and vanilla extract.

Divide mango mixture between two ovenproof ramekins or baking dishes. Sprinkle each with half the raspberries and top with oat mixture.

Bake until topping is golden and bubbly, about 30-35 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

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the best chocolate chunk cookies

After a party several months ago, I froze the half-dozen leftover chocolate chunk cookies for some future, unknown yet entirely foreseeable occasion when I’d feel like a intravenous shot of fudge. And then promptly forgot about them. I caught glimpses of them every now and then, like when I went rummaging in the freezer for some ice cream or coffee beans, but never thought of, you know, taking them out for a snack. Unthinkably, it seems, I’d forgotten that they were the best chocolate cookie I’ve ever had.

That changed this week. And I’m sorry, I know I swore off complaints about the weather, but I have to break: it’s the past seven days of gray skies, forty-degrees, and near-daily rain showers that drove me to the chocolate. Does anyone else feel cheated out of spring? True, our daffodils are very pretty. True, this month brought a couple truly springlike days, days when grilling felt slightly daring in the chilly-warm weather but the birds were singing. But otherwise, it’s felt like a warmed-over continuation of winter; it doesn’t have that lively spring air, the feel of awakening.

Long story short, it was a dreary Monday afternoon, I was yawning by four o’clock, I made myself a coffee and with the thought, Might as well do tea time right, pulled the cookie bag out of the freezer and blitzed one (okay, two) in the microwave for twenty seconds. I’ve kept it up every day since. I’m a creature of habit, especially habits with three kinds of chocolate.

Here’s the deal with these cookies. You melt together some butter and chocolate chips, and to this add all the usual ingredients — eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla extract. The key difference, of course, is that the foundation, the batter, is already quite chocolatey. Then you stir in the rest of the chocolate chips, so you get those delicious pockets of melted chips throughout the cookie when it’s fresh from the oven (or microwave). AND you top it with chunks of white chocolate. They are fabulous. They even make me perversely grateful for the dismal weather that drove me to them.

Dark and White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(Bon Appetit Desserts)

N.B. The original recipe calls for half a cup of chopped crystallized ginger. I didn’t include it the first time because I didn’t have any on hand, and in times afterward I wasn’t interested in tampering with perfection. But I imagine the spicy heat of crystallized ginger would make a very interesting, grown-up addition. If you are intrepid enough to try, report back!

Makes about 2 dozen

  • 2 2/3 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour*
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional, see head notes)
  • 3 1/2 oz high-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir 2 cups chocolate chips and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until melted. Alternatively, place in a microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until just melted together. Cool 10 minutes.

Beat eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl until well blended. Beat in melted chocolate mixture, then vanilla, then flour. Stir in ginger, if using, and remaining 2/3 cup chocolate chips. Let stand 10 minutes.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing cookies 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Press white chocolate pieces into tops of cookies. Bake until cookies look puffed and slightly dry on top, about 13 minutes. Cool thoroughly.

*To make self-rising flour, sift or stir together 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt in a small bowl. Measure from this.

black and white

Cookies, no. Cupcakes, yes. On Saturday, after an Australian-themed brunch with two excellent New York friends on the Lower East side (complete with bottomless mimosas, in proper brunch fashion), three of us trooped down the street to Sugar Sweet Sunshine, a retro-vibed bakery on Rivington. I’ve talked about Magnolia Bakery and Billy’s Bakery here on the blog before, and in fact ended that entry, exactly 364 days ago, with the lament, “I wish we’d gotten to Sugar Sweet Sunshine, located on the Lower East Side and apparently the next big thing.”

Finally, that wish has been granted — and vindicated. Sugar Sweet Sunshine may no longer be the next big thing. Just a big thing. A big deal. It has legions of followers, and I feel (once again!) a bit late to the party. Nonetheless, their cupcakes are sensational. Late date notwithstanding, I am jumping on the bandwagon.

The problem with Magnolia is that, while the cake was always light, fluffy, and flavorful (and I know I am increasingly in the minority here), their frosting was over-poweringly, tooth-achingly sweet. The frosting at Billy’s is a sight better, but the cake is too dense. I know I am Goldilocksing you all, and I’m sorry, but there’s a light at the end of this paragraph: Sugar Sweet has that fluffy cake AND the sweetly balanced frosting.

We bought three. Two were the “Black and White,” evidently chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. The other was their eponymous “Sunshine,” or yellow cake on vanilla buttercream. (In this case, dyed green.) B and I each had one when we got back to the apartment . . . and I ate another when we got back from a friend’s house that night. A cupcake at 10:30pm, when the alarm clock’s set for 3:00am for a 6:00am flight? Probably not the best idea.

But it was worth it.

eatalian gelato

This afternoon, B and I visited Eataly, Mario Batali’s sprawling indoor Italian food market with stalls for cured meats, fresh pasta, all kinds of cheese and coffee, breads, intricate patisserie confections, pop-up restaurants, positively pornographic tableaux of basil leaves and cherry tomatoes — and, of course, gelato. What we came for. And I had to admit we arrived a little spoiled: on Wednesday, we’d popped into Grom while meandering around the West Village. Grom is a total Italian import: they have dozens of shops up and down the boot, plus a couple international locations (New York being one). So it is good. It’s all natural, no preservatives or weird coloring, organic when possible, and as a result, I would imagine, of this exacting quality control/ingredient sourcing and know-how, each flavor tastes like the truest iteration of itself. The chocolate is deep, with coffee undertones and only a little bitter, while the vanilla is incredibly mellow and luscious. The coffee gelato is like a strong pull of espresso. The best.

Which is all to say, we’re pretty tough customers, so watch out. (We’re kind of a big deal.) The length of Eataly’s gelato line certainly pointed to a large fan base. There were about a dozen flavors to choose from — traditional fruit flavors plus your typical chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, coffee and so on. B got the stracciatella, and I had vanilla with cookies crushed in it (name forgotten; sorry). And I loved how, unlike many gelaterias, they offered crunchy cones and not just plastic cups.

In point of fact, I think Grom’s pure, intense flavors make it the better gelato. But both places are so wonderful, so at-the-top-of-their-game, that you really can’t go wrong with either. And lest we forget, Eataly’s shop lives inside a wonderful Italian market/eatery, and it’s hard to discount the delight of munching on a cone of bacio gelato while picking up fresh tortellini, mozzerella (made on site!) and a fistful of chocolates. Not that I’ve done this. A girl can dream. Barring that, have your sweet across the street in Madison Square Park. When we had ours, it was seventy degrees out — there are truly no better days.

a match made in heaven


Cold and I are not a match made in heaven. I hear some people love the cold, luxuriate in the cold, actually strap wooden slats to their feet and slide down frozen, snowy mountains, in negative and single digit temperatures, this all for fun! Well, more power to you, but I am infinitely happier holed up in the lodge, wrapped in a blanket before a crackling fire, steaming cocoa in one hand and a chocolate loaf cake baking in the oven, maybe bundling up for twenty minutes to build a snowman. (Note: I have never done this ski lodge routine. But doesn’t it sound lovely?)

Then there’s banana and chocolate. Chocolate and banana. Throw in some Nutella and an ice cream machine and you’ve got my favorite gelato order. Throw in some walnuts and a simple cream batter and you get a singularly marvelous cupcake recipe — Banana, Walnut, and Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes. Now that is a match made in Heaven.

I brought these to Sunday night’s Superbowl Party, and of course made too many, though in truth it’s hardly my fault. Bon Appetit put the yield at 12; I got 22. Some proved, upon baking, a little under-filled, but still! (Moral: definitely their fault.) Happily, this is one time when nobody minded leftovers. The cupcakes are light and moist, thanks to the buttermilk, the sour cream, and the mashed up fruit. They’re also not overly sweet, and much more like banana bread than, say, banana pudding in terms of flavor and sugar quotient. Then there’s the luscious chocolate chips and crunchy walnuts interspersed throughout, and the crown of cream cheese frosting and it’s all over for me.

Banana Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(From Bon Appetit’s Desserts)

Cupcake Ingredients (makes 18-20)

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (don’t have it on hand? combine 1/4 cup milk with a squeeze of lemon juice and let sit ten minutes)
  • 8 oz good milk chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line a muffin tin with liners.

Sift flour, baking soda and powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat together sugars, butter, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in bananas, then sour cream. Reduce speed to low and beat in half of dry ingredients, then buttermilk, then remaining dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate and walnuts.

Fill cupcake cups, stopping just before the top. Bake until tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool. When completely cool, frost.

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Reduce speed to low and slowly add powdered sugar and vanilla. Once all the powdered sugar has been added, increase mixer speed to high and beat until fluffy. Spread frosting on cupcakes.

Want to make chocolate curls? Seethis video!

world nutella day

The big reveal. That very special, yet little-known holiday I mentioned yesterday is one exceedingly close to my heart. And stomach. World Nutella Day! Welcome all.

A week ago, I didn’t even know Nutella had a holiday, following my own brand of logic that something I celebrate daily requires no formal lauding. Luckily, not everyone is so cavalier about their love of this miraculous chocolate-hazelnut spread as I. Thanks to a couple of American expat bloggers in Italy, it’s official: on February 5, the world celebrates Nutella. I know I won’t have to push any of you into buying a jar and polishing it off by midnight. You can split it with someone if you must, but please know that I consider this chickening out. I used to eat it by the spoonful. When I was living in Paris during study abroad, my roommate and I would make late-night trips to the Turkish market three blocks away for a baguette and a 14oz jar of the stuff. When the bread was gone, we went in with spoons. (Sharing, yes, but not chickening out when you consider we’d just finished an entire baguette.) Point being, don’t chicken out on me now!

My friend Claire told me about this event about a week ago, via a facebook message that read, in part: “I hope that you and your blog are prepared and excited for this great day.” We are prepared. We are excited. We have cookies to share with you. (We also have the legally necessary caveat that Nutella is not, in fact, health food, as one California mother was “shocked to learn” and is suing Nutella’s parent company over. I know the jars carry the helpful caption, “An example of a tasty yet balanced breakfast: a glass of skim milk, orange juice, and Nutella on whole wheat bread,” but know what? Iz a joke! To wit: neither cookies nor Nutella are a health food. Moving on.)

There are a whole bunch of recipes that a “Nutella cookie” search generates, and this is one of those search results, a fabulous one at that. The cookies puff up in the oven and fall back down while cooling, leaving little mountains of chocolate chips. The surface looks a little scorched and earthquake-level cracked, it’s true, but the Nutella keeps them from getting brittle or crispy. They’re thin but chewy and soft. A real home run, in my book.

But of course, the real question remains, Is the cookie version better than straight Nutella? Does the baking improve upon perfection? You can’t sweep your spoon around the side of the jar and collect a heaping scoop of the fudgy, rich, sweet spread, and there are few greater pleasures in life than that. It won’t slide over a crusty baguette nub or shmear over a banana. But on the plus side, practically speaking, putting the jar towards cookies also prevents you from downing it, unadorned and by the spoonful, in one sitting — which is not to be underestimated. And it’s hard to imagine what isn’t improved by the addition of butter, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate chips. So make the cookies and decide for yourself . . . or, you know, make a Nutella/Nutella cookie sandwich. (These also make great ice cream sandwich cookies!) Up to you.

Nutella Cookies

(Via.)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur; vanilla is also fine
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft, about one minute. Add the two sugars and beat together until soft and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the egg and Frangelico/vanilla, then the Nutella. Combine thoroughly.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. (True confessions: or just stir ’em together with a fork. Like me.) With the mixer on low speed, add dry to wet and beat until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop by the rounded teaspoon full onto prepared cookie sheet. (I actually measured them out, then rolled them further into little orbs. Just my thing.) Bake about 8 minutes and enjoy!

Ps. Not what you had in mind? Check out the Nutella Cake I made a year ago.

last night’s snack

I want s’more.